Learning from an Online Course (Part 3)

Welcome to the third post written as a ‘co-reflection’ with a participant on a recent ICT online course I had a pleasure to facilitate this winter. You can find the earlier posts here and here. This time I am talking with Amona Major from Angola.

Amona’s questions to Zhenya

About the course

On reflection – what changes would you make to the course program if any?

You have been facilitating this course since 2018. Have there been changes to the course? What were they? Why were they made?

In 2017-2018 I was facilitating TGC and CBI courses with OPEN (at that time, known as AE E-Teacher), and joined ICT instructor teams in 2019. Yes, there have been changes made in some specific assignments (wording, examples, quizzes, rubrics, the number of discussion boards in each week, and many other details).

The additional resources and further readings have been updated. You noticed that we have asked you for the permission to use the lesson plan you created for your final assignment in the course. This means that potentially it can serve as a helpful resource for the future participants who will join the course.

Why are the changes made? I think we need to add ‘how’ to this question. The reason is that the course instructors promote and practice the same idea that is central in the course content: reflective practice and reflective teaching. Each term the instructor team gets in touch regularly and talks about each module, the difficulties teachers had, the questions they (you!) ask, and other ideas. For example, this term my big question to myself and others was connecting participants from the same or close areas to each other (so that they could be in touch post-course), and assisting the teachers who joined the course later that it started and needed to catch up.

We also experiment on various aspects of course facilitating process, e.g. the kinds of posts we write in the discussion forums, how long or short our weekly summaries are or need to be, and how we respond to the needs and challenges of the specific groups.

Seeing the experience from another angle.

About the group

I’m sure all the different groups you take on for training are different and you learn something new every time. What would be your summarized reflection on training our group?

What were the most interesting things you learn about your students in this course group?

True, I learn a lot from each group: from the group as a whole, and from the individual teachers. These include learning about the other cultures and micro-cultures, schools and institutions teachers are working with, what kind of professional development opportunities are (not) available where they are. The personal stories shared for the ‘Cultural Bump’ assignment are never the same, and they are always a source of insights. I learn a lot from the questions asked by teachers (for example, in one of the groups there were several teachers working with young kids under 10 years old, and that motivated me to explore this more, find out possible ways to introduce such skills through story-telling and role play, for example. I can’t be more specific and mention the specific names, but I have a journal full of ideas.

My summarized reflection? That’s a very hard question. It is interesting how in the course we are learning not to generalize or make stereotypes when talking about a (micro-)culture. The same applies to the course groups: the variety of educational backgrounds, age groups and proficiency levels of students, class sizes, types of courses, course books used, (lack of) flexibility and freedom in lesson planning and in-class decision-making, and even a family context and other micro-cultures we are part of make the participating teachers so unique that a ‘summary’ would fail. If I wanted to make a general statement, I would simply say how appreciative and grateful I am for the chance to meet all the wonderful teachers from various parts of the world, and to share a short part of their teaching and learning journey with them.

I hope I answered your questions, at least partially.

My questions to Amona were the following:

What was the most motivating thing for you on the course?
What was the most challenging aspect, or task/assignment?
What was your most favorite part in the course, and why?
What were your expectations from the course and to what extent were they achieved?

At this very moment she is starting her own blog Contos & Café so I am excited to re-direct you there to see her answers, to follow the blog, and to keep the conversations going.

Thank you for reading!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/.
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